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What Is A Push Notification and How Does It Work?

If you are interested in the app development market, then you must have heard about push notifications. If you still don’t know what is a push notification, then we will guide you. Push notifications are not a new term. It is something that we have seen on many occasions and that we have used even without realizing it, but we do not consider what they are, and we do not know for sure what is a push notification or what it’s about, or how they work, they “are there.” 

What Is A Push Notification

However, it is an essential technology for communicating messages (internally from the application). It is not something new since they have been with us longer than we think. Today we will discuss a little about these push notifications, their origin, how they work, and why they are important to consider at the development level.

So, What Is A Push Notification?

If we want to understand what is a push notification, we must go back to a few years ago with the Blackberry telephone company. Does anyone remember? We haven’t seen it in advertisements in a long time. It was thanks to them and their internal mail service that these notifications started to work. 

If we were using a client’s local mail, like Outlook, or Microsoft, to see if we have received any new emails, we would have to perform a query to the server. Blackberry wanted us not to worry about that. So, they devised a new technology, which was called a push. 

Using that push technology, the client is not the one who makes the query, but the server who sends it; In other words, instead of us asking: “Are their new messages?” it is the server who tells us: “Hey, you have a new message.” 

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There is no difference, but in reality, what is happening is that the communication is carried out in the opposite direction. In this way, despite not being instant messaging, the client receives the news, and, therefore, we know that we have a new message. 

This was quite a revolution, and it was not strange to see how these terminals became so popular in the US. Since the added grace of all this, the application in question did not need to be active. We received the notification, and we decided whether or not to consult the new message.

push notification vs messages

Knowing this, let’s go back a second to the meaning of “push” or what is a push notification. There are two communication technologies: push and pull. The difference is that in push, the server sends the query, while in pull, we are the ones who query the server. 

Think about it in the following way: there are applications that we have to pull down with our fingers to refresh them, as is the case with Twitter or Gmail. While in others, WhatsApp is the application that informs us that a friend has sent us a new message. As you can see, I have already mentioned a famous messaging application among users. We will use it as an example to explain in detail what is a push notification.

How Do Push Notifications Work?

Now that we know a push notification, we will analyze the entire journey of a WhatsApp message, from when it leaves a friend’s terminal until it reaches ours. Let’s go by points to understand this concept in detail:

  • The message comes out of our friend’s terminal, going to the WhatsApp server. That is your initial destination. The message carries the identification of the sender and the receiver so that the server can classify it.
  • The server receives the message and parses it. See where it comes from and to whom it is directed. If the recipient is available, the shipping process will begin for him, but he has not yet left for his destination. This is when our friend will see the first “check.”
  • The server sends the message to the receiver and also notifies him that it is available to read. Here our friend will see the double “check,” but in gray. This means that it has successfully reached its destination and that you have been notified of it. We perceive that there has not yet been any interaction on our part. We have not unlocked the application, or the phone, or anything. All of this has been done without our having participated in the process.
  • Finally, we are notified of the message, we consult WhatsApp, and we read it. Here our friend would see the double blue “check,” confirming that the recipient has received and read the message. We decide whether to answer or ignore our friend blatantly, and the process starts all over again.
what is a push notification

This is the magic of push notifications, and now you know what is a push notification, warn the user of something without him participating. At the development level, they are so important because thanks to them. We can communicate news about our services without having to wait for him to refresh the inbox or open the application. 

Conclusions About Push Notifications

As we have seen, push notifications can be a powerful weapon to improve the retention of our apps or games. But you have to do it well and try different ways unless you find the one that works best. Are you thinking of implementing a push notification strategy in your mobile app or game Do get in touch in the comments and let us know? If you still have any questions regarding push notifications, we are here to help.